Our Story


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March 5, 2013

THIS IS THE START OF A LOVE STORY

This story begins on March 5, 2013, when the seed for this “love” story was planted.  This date also happens to be Matt Kladnik’s birthday, pastor of Vintage Faith Church.  It was during Matt’s birthday dinner, that he and his wife, had the idea to start a thrift store that would impact the community in some way, and they wanted Bryan Lucas to be in charge of getting the store up and running.  The timing was perfect as Bryan had recently been laid off from work and he was seeking something more purposeful – something that would impact God’s kingdom.  After talking and brainstorming, the goal of the thrift store took on more than just a community focus, but was decided that all proceeds for the thrift store would go right back into ministries, churches and the community.  The store would also provide jobs for those in need of one.  The possibilities were endless, especially with God’s plans being limitless.  We all decided to pray about this and see if it was truly God-led and inspired.

This is the start of a love story…a story about loving our city through a thrift store.

 

March 24, 2013

PRAYER BRINGS PERSPECTIVE 

The rest of the month of March was spent in earnest prayer by Bryan, and his wife Jennifer, and Matt and Grace Kladnik.  We all realized that this thrift store concept would only be made possible as long as it was completely God-led.  We surrendered all control and decided as long as He opened doors, we would obediently walk through them.  After Bryan and Jennifer accepted the challenge and were ready to move forward with the ministry project as God directed, the first course of action was to write up a business plan.  This was presented to the church board at Vintage Faith and everyone was 100% on board.

 

April 14, 2013

FOLLOWING IN FOOTSTEPS

Matt and Bryan began their research on ways to get the thrift store funded.  They began meeting with a few thrift stores that were non-profit with religious affiliations.  These stores gave them helpful advice and one store told them about a grant that loves helping small churches start up ministries especially in urban settings.  This grant is provided by the Mustard Seed Foundation.  Jennifer began working on the grant application to see if they could get some funding to help get the thrift store off the ground.

 

June 2, 2013

IT’S OFFICIAL

June 2, 2013 is the day the thrift store concept was finally introduced to the church as a corporate body.  The support received was beyond expectation.  Everyone is very excited and felt immediately it is from God.

 

June 4, 2013

GOD SPEAKS 

This post shows God’s evidence that He is completely in control and ready to provide.  It’s so exciting to watch and be a part of!  On Monday, June 3, 2013, Bryan was at a flea market when he noticed a bunch of store fixtures.  He immediately thought that would be perfect for the thrift store.  The vendor gave a price and Bryan continued to walk the market praying and reflecting on the potential purchase.  He felt God saying to “Wait.”  So he did…

The next day, Bryan received a phone call from Pat Earley from Vintage Faith Church.  He was in the process of remodeling the campus bookstore of UCLA and wanted to know if he could use the store fixtures that would soon be demo’d.  Of course the store fixtures were above and beyond our greatest expectations.  There was more than we needed and nicer than we imagined.  God spoke His promise to Bryan which then impacted the rest of the church and grew our faith.  He provides and He loves to show His awesome provisions when we obey.

 

June 9, 2013

RETURN ON ETERNAL INVESTMENT

Today was the day the thrift store received its first donation.  This $100 donation may seem like a little to some and a lot to others, but to God, it’s everything.  It represents obedience and faith.  This donation is an investment in God’s kingdom we pray will grow and produce ten-fold, not just financially, but spiritually, which is the plumbline of this ministry.  The RO(E)I, Return On Eternal Investment is priceless.

Shortly after, we received our first monthly donor.  An East Coast sponsor pledged to donate $200/month towards the start up of the thrift store.

Plant. Water. Grow.

 

June 15, 2013

IMPACT

Today was our first yard sale fundraiser to raise funds and awareness for the thrift store.  Two days prior, Bryan and Matt were getting a little nervous that there wouldn’t be enough inventory to make the yard sale worthwhile.  But in the last day before the yard sale, the floodgates opened.  Bryan spent the entire day picking up items all over the South Bay from people wanting to donate their items to the sale.  Even random strangers who saw the yard sale fundraiser advertisement on Craigslist reached out to donate their used goods.

Just as exciting as the actual raising of funds, was the church pulling together to donate their time to seeing this yard sale as successful.  Nearby neighbors heard about the church for the first time and relationships were started.  The community is already being impacted. Additionally, we raised $1330 towards the project!  All praise to God!

 

June 18th, 2013

FAITH GROWS

Vintage Faith Church decides to increase their monthly pledged giving from $500/month to $1000/month.  Obedience and trust in action. Let faith grow.

 

June 23, 2013

LET IT RAIN

God continues to provide and bless this vision.  Today we received a $1,000 anonymous donation.  All glory to God!

 

June 25, 2013

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

It’s always so much fun to see the miraculous happen, but we do need to take care of business too from time to time.  The name of the thrift store was decided.  It will be called “Love The City Thrift Store.”  This name reflects the mission of Vintage Faith Church which focuses everything we do on these three elements: “Encounter God,” “Equip the Church,” and “Love the City.”  Love The City is what we are called to do.  We are to love others and show others God and His love.  This can easily be obtained through the vision of this thrift store.  Today the dba for Love The City Thrift Store was filed.

 

June 28, 2013

IT’S RAINING, IT’S POURING

Today, was another huge faith-builder day!  Within hours of each other, God really outdid Himself with the way and capacity in which He provided. I’m not sure if we should be laughing or scratching our heads in amazement, but we are full of awe.

Bryan, Dorn Reppert, and Jeremy Harger had been going to estate sales from time to time and were starting to be more vocal in sharing their vision with those running the estate sale.  Yesterday, an estate sale made an offer to Bryan and Dorn giving them the opportunity to buy whatever items didn’t sell at a fraction of their value.  Bryan considered this offer and then Dorn reminded him of what happened when he waited on the store fixture offer.  When he waited, he was given an abundance of store fixtures for free the next day.  So, Bryan decided to wait and not take the offer.

The next day, Jeremy contacted another church organization called Homes of Hope that was having a yard sale fundraiser to raise funds for a mission trip and asked if they would consider donating all their leftover items to the thrift store.  They were more than happy to help.  That same morning, Dorn was at a garage sale in Manhattan Beach and after sharing with the owner the vision of the thrift store, the owner decided to donate all the leftover items to the thrift store.  Bryan and Dorn then went back to the estate sale who offered to sell their leftover items and were given the same offer again.  Bryan joked that they had just received an entire garage sale of donated items for free.  Upon hearing that, the estate sale owner said they could come back in 2 weeks and pick up all the remaining goods for free.  Bryan called Matt to tell him the amazing news.  Matt happened to be at an estate sale in his neighborhood and the estate sale owner overheard his phone conversation.  After Matt shared with them the thrift store vision, that estate sale owner decided to donate all their leftover items as well.  Within hours of each other, a barrage of instant free inventory!

 

July 13, 2013

WHO BLESSED WHOM?

Word has spread among estate sales and garage sales in the area and more and more people are reaching out to us and offering to donate all their leftover, unsold items.  The inventory is filling the church shed, two garages, a back house and Bryan and Jennifer’s van is constantly full of items.  We are quickly running out of room.

One estate sale owner who heard about the thrift store vision, asked if Bryan would be interested in running their estate sale for a weekend.  This would be the third time the sale had been run, but any profits would be split 50/50 between Bryan and the owner and any unsold items would be donated to the thrift store.  The sale ran July 11-13, and Bryan’s profits totaled about $1,200 which he donated towards the purchase of a moving truck for the thrift store.  All the unsold items continue to fill up any unused space in the church shed and garages.

The neat thing about this estate sale is we truly blessed the family in helping them.  They are a pastor’s family who live in another state whose mother had passed.  They trusted Bryan so much, they even gave him the key to their house.  We were able to bless them by helping them sell more of their items and they blessed us in helping us further our vision with the thrift store.

 

July 20, 2013

STUFF, STUFF AND MORE STUFF

Today was our second yard sale fundraiser for the thrift store.  Because of our excessive inventory, this was the largest yard sale/rummage sale I had ever seen!  It included inventory from our last yard sale, 3 estate sales and 2 garage sale donations, plus multiple individual donated items.  We raised $1600 and still have an impressive inventory to sell.  All glory goes to God!

It’s interesting how one’s perspective on things or “stuff” shifts when one is in the mentality of constantly selling or getting rid “stuff.”  Especially when ridding “stuff” gets us closer to the thrift store goal, which is essentially helping others, giving more and being less selfish.  All of a sudden, “stuff” doesn’t seem so important anymore…

 

July 27, 2013

TRUST AND OBEY, FOR THERE IS NO OTHER WAY

Another organization called Mercy’s Village donated all their unsold items from today’s yard sale fundraiser to the thrift store.  They too had an eye-popping large inventory donated by their church.  We are so thankful for these donations and free inventory, but we are now at a place where we need to get a moving van to pick up inventory and also use it to store some items inside until we get our store location.  We feel we are ready to get a store at any time – especially as we keep getting offers to take free inventory.  We need a large facility or storage to hold all the excess items we are receiving.  Bryan and Matt have been diligently searching for the right moving truck at the right price, but have not found anything yet.  We are trusting that God will provide at just the right time.  We are praying for wisdom that we will not make something happen in our own strength, but trust God to make it happen in His own timing as He has done all along.

 

August 4, 2013

COMPASS

Another estate sale has donated all their leftover items to us on the same weekend we are to pick up all the UCLA store fixtures.  Since we still have not found the right box truck, we resort to renting a U-Haul truck to get the job done. During the day, on August 3-4, Bryan, along with Dorn and Matt Janes, loaded up all the inventory into the U-Haul and filled every last nook and cranny in the church shed and garages.  We literally can’t take another item until we have a space to put them.  At night, the three of them picked up all the store fixtures from UCLA and stored them under tarps on the church parking lot.

God knows our needs and knows what’s best.  We are waiting on Him for direction.

 

August 10, 2013

WAITING ON HIM ALWAYS PAYS OFF

Bryan and Matt realized yesterday that they might need to raise their budget to find the right truck.  They thought they might have been low-balling their price range by about $2,000.  So, in faith, they raised their budget to find a more appropriate, reliable truck.  That same day, a donor pledged to give $2,000 towards the thrift store cause.  An hour later, the East Coast donor called out of the blue, and said he decided he wanted to increase his monthly giving from $200/month to $400/month.

Today, a check for the thrift store was found under the church door in the amount of $5,000.

God knows our needs; He provides.  It is our job to always wait on Him for direction rather than making things happen in our own strength.  In every circumstance where we have had to make major decisions, instead of plowing ahead, we are waiting on Him, and it’s paying off big.

 

August 28, 2013

CLAIMING THE LAND

Ever since June, we have had our eyes on a storefront property that is visible from the church.  To our perception, the place seems perfect.  It is on a busy street on a corner lot, with lots of windows, next to a brand new retail strip mall.  The property is getting completely remodeled and is steps away from the church.  When we first contacted the owner, he let us know the property wouldn’t be available until September or October.  We let him know we were very interested in the property and when he was ready to lease it, to contact us.  While we were waiting to hear from him, we searched the area for other properties.  Most were more expensive, or off-the-beaten path or just not the “right place.”  We still had our original property in the back of our minds…

A few weeks ago, we heard from the owner who wanted to set up a meeting.  Today, Matt and Bryan met with him and it went really well.  We found out the cost of the square footage, which is more than what our budget currently allows, but less than other properties, and we are praying God will make a way.  There are others also interested in the property, but since we were the first to contact and meet with him, he is interested in moving forward with us.  We are waiting for him to contact us to go over the paperwork.  In the meantime, we are praying for God to provide as He has all along and make it 100% clear this is the location for our store.  If not, we pray He makes another location available to us.  He leads; we follow.

 

September 5, 2013

EVOLVE AND GROW

Today, we had our first official LTC Leadership Meeting, which included Matt & Grace Kladnik and Bryan & Jennifer Lucas.  It was a time to pray, plan and regroup.  We addressed any issues and created new goals.  We are excited with renewed vigor in the way the project has evolved and seeing all the blessings and miracles in such a short time.  It’s exciting to be a part of something that is clearly being orchestrated by God.

 

September 22, 2013

ACTION TEAM

Today, we created an Action Team for the thrift store with members of Vintage Faith Church.  We felt it was important to have a team in place that was ready and willing to support the project on several levels: through prayer, being available to pick up donations, volunteering for fundraisers, etc.  This team is very important and valuable as they are the first in line to contact when issues or needs arise.  We are so grateful for their commitment and dedication to this project.

 

September 18, 2013

KEEPING OPTIONS OPEN

Today, we received more store fixtures from another bookstore.  Also, our Board of Equalization paperwork we had filed to give us an opportunity to sell at flea markets to raise more funds was approved, should we decide to pursue this avenue in the future.  We are continuing to look at all options to fundraise however that may appear.

 

October 1, 2013

A LIGHT UNTO MY PATH

After initially meeting with the owner of the retail commercial space across the street from the church, Bryan did not feel like it was the right place.  Or maybe it could still be the right place, but at another time.  All he knew was it was not the right place right now.  When the vision of the thrift store first started taking root, we had a far-off plan to maybe have a retail store open by September 1 or October 1.  We have learned along the way to plan very loosely, because most likely God has something else in mind.  We see the end goal, but the journey getting there continues to surprise us.  We are keeping an open heart and mind, knowing that the path we are on is unfamiliar and ever changing.  It is so comforting to know He is lighting that path for us along the way.

 

October 12, 2013

RIGHT TIMING

After weeks of looking at moving trucks and having to turn down donation pickups because we were running out of space, we realized that today was the day we needed to purchase our long-awaited moving truck.  The timing was right and we knew this was our greatest need at the moment.  This allows us more flexibility to pickup large items and even gives us extra space to contain them.

 

October 26, 2013

OPPORTUNITIES ARE KNOCKING

As soon as we purchased the box truck, once again needs arose and donations came flooding in.  In the last two weeks, nearly every single day was either picking up donated items from estate sales, yard sales or homes, or running estate sale fundraisers.  More people have been contacting Bryan to run their estate sales and all unsold items are being donated to the thrift store.  Bryan’s goal is to try to raise as much money as possible for the homeowner and Love The City during an estate sale, but any items that don’t sell get donated to LTC.  We ended up doing an estate sale in Palos Verdes October 18-19.  Then, the following weekend, we did an estate sale in our neighbor’s home.  When our neighbor had found out what we were doing, he wanted to be a part of it as well.  He asked us to run his estate sale and would then donate all the rest of the items to Love The City.  We were able to raise a good portion of money at the estate sale.  After giving him his cut, he decided to give us a generous donation back from the amount he received.  During his estate sale, one woman decided to go back to her home and bring back a bunch of clothing to donate to our cause.  Another woman asked if we could pick up a bunch of donated items from her home.  It’s amazing how many doors this project is already opening up.  We have had so many opportunities to share with everyone about God, our vision, the church, and how our goal is solely to give back and help those in need.

 

November 2, 2013

CONNECTION

Bryan was checking out some yard sales today and found a lady selling some clothing racks.  He ended up purchasing them at a great price after he shared with the woman about the thrift store.  She then told him to return when the yard sale was over and take all her unsold items as a donation to the thrift store.  It’s amazing to see so many people connect with this idea and want to be a part of it!

 

November 4, 2013

IT’S ALL COMING TOGETHER

We received a donation of jewelry displays from a retail store for our thrift store.  We have obtained so many displays, clothing racks and store fixtures for our future store, it’s exciting to see how it will all come together when we find the right location.

 

November 5, 2013

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

Today, we received a donation of $1,000.  This is another reminder that God is moving people’s hearts . I love when people are obedient to what He lays on the hearts of those who listen.

 

November 11-13, 2013

NEIGHBORLY LOVE

Today, we picked up more donations from various locations – including a neighbor on our street who had heard about the thrift store project and also wanted to contribute by donating furniture.  I love how this has allowed open communication between all our neighbors and brings out a desire within people to help others.

 

November 14, 2013

GRANT

Today was our 2nd LTC Leadership Meeting to regroup and re-evaluate the progress and direction of the thrift store project.  Right before we left for the meeting, we received an email from the Mustard Seed Foundation letting us know they were very interested in what we were doing and would be submitting our grant application to the Mustard Seed Board in December.  This was very exciting news for us and we pray they will approve the grant for us.  As we discussed the direction of the thrift store, we all felt strongly that we were not in a position at this time to actively seek a storefront location.  We are still in the fundraising process and we don’t want to rush our ideal timeline when we know God’s timeline may be different from ours.  We decided we needed to look for a warehouse location for the time being.  We have maxed out all our storage options and need a place to store and organize all our inventory.  A warehouse would also allow us more flexibility and less overhead.  We would be able to do large warehouse fundraising events in the meantime to continue raising funds.  We feel like this is a wise direction to head for the time being until a storefront makes sense financially.  We always want to be good stewards of our funds.  We also want to start using some of the funds we have been raising and find ways to start giving back to our community, as that is our purpose for what we are doing in the first place.  We will see what God puts in our path.

 

November 17, 2013

GENEROSITY

Today, we received a donation for $1800 from a member in the church.  It never ceases to amaze me the generosity the church family has and the timing of the donations.

 

November 20, 2013

DIVINE APPOINTMENT 

Over the last two weeks, we have picked up 5 more donations, including one that had donated to us before back in August.  It seems we are picking up at least one donation per week – sometimes as many as 3 donation pickups!  We are seeing God’s faithfulness in His provisions with the endless donated items.  Last week, when we picked up 3 donations, we saw God working again – even through donation pickups.  After picking up the first donation, the truck was full, and like clockwork, we received another call for another donation pickup.  At first we hesitated, knowing the truck would have to be fully unloaded before the pickup could be done, but we were able to unload the items in our neighbor’s home where we had his estate sale.  We picked up the second donation and came back and unloaded all the items from the truck in the neighbor’s home again – everything except a refrigerator and stove – which had to stay on the truck because there was no room for it anywhere.  The next day, we received a call for another pickup.  We told them we would be able to pick up the items, but first we needed to find a “home” for the refrigerator and stove.  They told us those two items were exactly what they needed.  So we gave them the refrigerator and stove and they donated furniture they no longer needed.  Another divine appointment.

We will be having another estate sale fundraiser in the coming weeks at our neighbor’s house again to move some of this inventory, but we are actively looking for warehouse space as we feel like that is our greatest need at this time.  So much continues to happen, it seems that every day He gives us another gift.  It’s like waking up to Christmas morning every day.  I can’t wait to see what He will do next.

 

November 24, 2013

THANKSGIVING IN THE PARK

Today, Love The City Thrift Store partnered up with our church, Vintage Faith Foursquare, to provide Thanksgiving in the Park.  This is the second year the church has done this event at Tellefson Park while providing a free turkey lunch to the community and a service beforehand.  This year, Love The City was able to be a part of the event by providing free clothing, shoes, blankets, and toiletries to anyone in need.  We served about 200 people at the event and look forward to being a part of more outreach events in the future.

 

November 27, 2013

CLOTHING DISTRIBUTION

The day before Thanksgiving, Love The City Thrift Store partnered with another local church called Catalyst Church located in Westchester.  They have a homeless outreach ministry and every year, they provide a turkey lunch to the homeless in Westchester park.  We were able to bring our big truck with three racks of clothing, shoes, toiletries and blankets for anyone in need.  We got the chance to show God’s love as we helped them pick out the things they needed.

 

December 9, 2013

FAITH OF A MUSTARD SEED

Today, we received the approval for $5,000 for our first grant request from the Mustard Seed Foundation!  This truly is seed money to help launch our thrift store off the ground.  We are very grateful they took a leap of faith by awarding us this funding as this particular ministry project was outside their usual scope.  We pray this seed money will be planted in faith and grow to be a huge impact on the kingdom.

 

January 2, 2014

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

Today, our logo was created.  A lot of thought was put into it as we wanted it to reflect who we are and what we’re about.  The logo reflects our church’s logo with the striping and has a prominent heart to show that our sole purpose is that we LOVE our city!  It’s simple, but perfect.

LTC_Logo

 

March 5, 2014

PERFECT TIMING

We decided to pursue another grant to see if we could get awarded enough money to actually open a storefront instead of looking at warehouse options.  We found out our Foursquare church denomination had a grant funding program.  We nearly missed the deadline for the grant submission thinking it was due another month later.  So with only 2 days to write a full grant application, our pastor Matt Kladnik, was able to pour his heart into the application and eloquently lay out everything in his words.  I’m sure he was greatly relieved to have finished it right in time for the deadline submission.  We later found out, this was the last opportunity for a grant to be submitted with the Foursquare Foundation as they would be discontinuing the grant program after this last submission.  It was a near miss, but ironically, right on time.  Just like God’s timing – it may feel like it’s cutting close at times, but it’s always right on time with His perfect timing.

 

March 24, 2014

THE MEETING OF LIKE MINDS

We were given the awesome privilege to meet with one of the board members of the Foursquare Foundation.  We got to share our heart and vision with him and our plans for the thrift store outreach ministry.  He was excited right along with us, and we knew we had his support.  However, our ministry we were requesting funding for was outside the box of a normal grant fund they support.  Usually, the foundation would fund one-time events in the hopes that many souls would be saved at that event.  Or they would fund a one-time ministry project.  None of these requests were self-sustaining – they just needed the funds one time.  Our request was quite different.  We were planning to be a self-sustaining ministry that needed seed money.  We weren’t expecting a lot of souls to be saved at one event, but we would be planting seeds and building relationships within the community for God to harvest at the right time.  We were both a ministry and a business launched by our church.  This was well outside the box of their usual grant requests.  We requested the maximum amount of $50,000 in the hopes we would get even a portion of that amount.  We knew every bit would help if we were to take on the huge task of opening a store.  We laid it all on the table.  Now it was in the board’s hands…and God’s.

 

April 20, 2014

EASTER IN THE PARK

The other annual outreach event our church does in Tellefson Park is Easter in the Park.  It is very similar to our Thanksgiving in the Park where we have a service outdoors, but we provide breakfast beforehand.  After the service, we have an Easter egg hunt and games for the kids.  This event is open to the entire community.  Love The City once again provided all the free clothing, toiletries, and shoes for families and individuals in need.

 

May 15, 2014

BIG NEWS!

Today, we received news from the Foursquare Foundation that we were awarded some grant money.  We were hoping for half of what we requested ($25,000), so we were shocked when we received $45,000!  Our small team that had worked so hard on the grants, all the fundraisers, all the prayers, through blood, sweat and tears, it was now a reality.  We knew this would allow us to finally launch the official storefront of Love The City Thrift Store.

 

May 17, 2014

ONE LAST HURRAH

With all the inventory we continued to collect through donations, we decided to have one more huge estate sale fundraiser.  We held it over 3 days and were able to raise thousands more.  We were also able to share in our excitement with all the people who went to all our yard sale and estate sale fundraisers.  They kept in touch with our progress and goals and celebrated right along with us when they heard about the grant news.  We are thankful for everyone who supported us and our vision over the last 1 1/2 years in getting this store up and running.

 

June 11, 2014

RIGHT TIME…WRONG PLACE?

With the first disbursement of funds from the Foursquare Foundation on its way, we knew we needed to begin looking for a storefront location. We knew the area we wanted to be, but it was very difficult finding something large enough within our budget.  We’d check properties online and in person, but they were either the right size, but too expensive, or the right price, but too small, or right price and size, but wrong location.  There were some that seemed like a good fit, but they were no longer available.  We had checked Craigslist a few times, but it never gave us good leads so we kept looking through different avenues.  We had some realtors checking for us as well.  It was frustrating to finally have the funding, but not find the right place.  But, we knew the right place would come along at the right time.

 

June 28, 2014

YOUTH CAMP

Using the resources donated to Love The City Thrift Store, we held a huge yard sale fundraiser to generate funds for the youth in our church to go youth camp for a week in the summer.  We were able to raise enough funds to help 5 kids go to camp.

 

July 7, 2014

ANSWER TO PRAYER

First thing Monday morning after the holiday weekend, a thought popped in our head to check Craigslist – even though it never seemed to be a good lead.  The very first thing that popped up was a retail storefront with lots of windows in the perfect location within our budget and a great size.  It all seemed too good to be true.  We called immediately and found out it was actually true…and available.  We practically agreed to the place over the phone sight unseen, but went to the store to check it out first that same day.  The landlord hadn’t even had a chance to advertise it on any other websites, thankfully.  As soon as we saw it, we knew this was the place.  We agreed to a 3 year lease and found out the landlord was actually a Christian and she said we were an answer to her prayer for wanting to rent the space, as she unexpectedly had to take over some of the family’s properties and get them rented.  We told her SHE was an answer to OUR prayers.

 

September 1, 2014

IT’S OFFICIAL!

After signing contracts and leasing agreements, the place was ours!  Before we could move in, however, some work needed to be done.  We realized it wouldn’t be completed by August 1st, so we planned on a September 1st start date.  We were able to begin moving in fixtures and product at the end of August and were hoping for an opening date of September 1st, but then realized that wouldn’t be possible.  We decided to have a soft opening on Monday, September 15, and our Grand Opening on Saturday, October 4.

 

September 8, 2014

THE 11TH HOUR

With keys in hand, we began installing fixtures – most having been donated over the past year in anticipation of the store.  It was amazing to see how these fixtures fit for the space we didn’t know we were going to have.  We had received the UCLA fixtures in July of 2013 and now over a year later, we found they fit perfectly in the allotted space we were given!  With lots of volunteer help, we painted, we cleaned, we filled the store with donations.  With one final hurdle and a projected open date, we still didn’t have clothing racks for the store.  We knew where we wanted them to go, but we didn’t have them yet.  We considered laying clothes on tables or other options, but we knew we really needed the racks.  Feeling pressure to spend money to buy clothing racks, again in the 11th hour, God made available an amazing opportunity.  We received a phone call asking if we could use clothing racks and that if we were willing to pay $30 for the scrap metal value, we could come and get them!  Our hope was for 9 clothing racks.  We actually received 24 and were able to use 18 of the 24 racks.

 

October 1, 2014

PREPPING FOR OFFICIAL LAUNCH

Our soft opening went well.  We had a chance to work out all the kinks and get internet installed so we could finally accept credit cards.  Curious customers walking by popped in to check out our store and learn what we were about – a non-profit benefiting the community.  We were welcomed and embraced by everyone and excited that our purpose was to give back to the local community and those in need.

 

October 2, 2014

DRESSING ROOMS

Another thing high on our wish list were dressing rooms.  We found out that in order to construct dressing rooms, it would require a permit and would take a long time.  Again at the 11th hour, we received a phone call asking if we wanted 2 huge fixtures.  We hesitated, thinking our store had all the fixtures we needed, and we probably wouldn’t have room for 2 large fixtures.  On our way back taking them to the store, we realized these fixtures could function as the dividing wall for the 2 dressing rooms.  Once in the store, we realized we had everything else needed to complete the dressing rooms (2 matching curtain rods, a set of matching full-length curtains, chairs for inside the rooms).  Two days later, we found full-length mirrors to complete the look.  As an added bonus, the fixtures light up inside the rooms.  The dressing rooms fit perfectly and we couldn’t imagine or have built a more perfect fit or look. These were set up right in time for our Grand Opening!

 

October 4, 2014

GRAND OPENING!

Today marked our official grand opening.  Word has been spreading and more people are coming into the store.  We had a great turn-out and we are starting to see some repeat customers allowing us to begin building relationships.  We are very excited at the prospect of the store now being open!  It’s amazing to see this idea transform into reality.  God opened the doors and provided every step of the way.  We are overwhelmed with gratitude and the realization that this is a project God built and we were along for the fun and very adventurous ride.

 

October 14, 2014

SURPLUS

As we began operating the store after the official grand opening, we realized the plastic non-swivel hangers we were using were not ideal.  We began to pray for better hangers so it would be a better experience for our customers and our volunteers who re-stock the hangers with clothing.  We thought we would need 900 swivel hangers for tops and pants and literally within a few days of looking, we found someone selling 1,500 matching swivel hangers for tops and pants for only $100!  Now, all our hangers in the store are excellent quality and they all match adding to the aesthetic appeal and functionality needed.  These were better than we could have imagined and once again, we were given a surplus in what we were hoping for.

 

October 18, 2014

UNEXPECTED GIFT

Our store received an unexpected gift – something we didn’t even realize we needed.  We were given a bunch of shoe rack fixtures that were dropped off at our door.  The shoe racks fit perfectly in our shoe section.  We weren’t even looking for shoe racks, but they are a huge blessing, once again adding to the aesthetic appeal and the organization makes the shopping experience more enjoyable.

 

October 31, 2014

CULVER VILLAGE HALLOWEEN CANDY CRAWL

Our store is located on a busy street full of shops and businesses known as Culver Village.  All stores are given the opportunity to participate in community events around the holidays.  Today, we were part of the Culver Village Halloween Candy Crawl.  We were able to give out scripture candy to about 200 kids who visited our store on Halloween.

 

November 23, 2014

THANKSGIVING IN THE PARK

Once again, we participated in our annual Thanksgiving in the Park outreach event at Tellefson Park.  This time we got to partner up with 2 churches: Vintage Faith Foursquare Church and Anugrah Church.  With the opening of the store, we were able to pass out flyers advertising our community event.  We had a feeling, we might have a bigger turn-out than previous years.  IN years past, we would set up several clothing racks and boxes with blankets, shoes and toiletries to be given out.  This year, we set up a canopy and brought 4 clothing racks, in addition to tarps and blankets on the ground that we filled with clothes.  We also gave out blankets, shoes, reading glasses, toys, toiletries, and canned and boxed foods to anyone in need.  We had a huge turnout and our churches fed over 400 people.  We had a service beforehand and games and activities for the kids.  It was such a fun event as we saw many of our store customers come to the event and some even offered to volunteer.  It was a beautiful picture of the community joining hands to help others.

 

November 26, 2014

CATALYST CLOTHING DISTRIBUTION

We once again helped Catalyst Church the day before Thanksgiving with their Homeless Ministry in the Park.   The church provided the food and we provided all the same kinds of items that we gave away at the Thanksgiving in the Park.  We had about 100 homeless come and be cared for.

 

December 6, 2014

CULVER VILLAGE HOLIDAY BASH

Another event Culver Village does for its community is the Christmas holiday bash.  We volunteered to do crafts for the kids who came into our store.  We did a candy cane craft and told the candy cane story while giving out candy canes.  We had a couple hundred kids come throughout the day to enjoy the candy cane fun.

 

December 31, 2014

REFLECTION

As we close out the year 2014, we have a lot to reflect on and be thankful for.  Looking back nearly 2 years ago, who knew God would bring His vision this far.  It’s beyond what we could have expected, and in many ways, way different than we could have anticipated.  We have loved getting to know members of the community and form long-standing relationships with our customers.  It’s been an exciting ride so far and we get to witness all the miracles and blessings along the way.  We are so grateful for all His provisions and that we get be used in a big way.  It is our desire for our community to see something different in us and we look forward to the upcoming year to find more ways to be involved in helping others in our community.